Sunday, February 26, 2017
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An Epidemic of Huge Pipes and Bad Technique

Category: Pipe Rack

Bertrand RussellThe following is strictly opinion. I am the arbiter of taste and sensibility for no one but myself. Ultimately smoke what you like and don't let yourself be influenced by the opinions of anonymous people encountered on the internet whose opinions may or may not be valid:

Over the years watching YouTube videos and reading web forums I get the impression that a lot of pipe smokers suffer from horrible technique. Technique is crucial to the enjoyment of smoking a pipe, as flavor is distilled by as low a temperature burn as you can manage. Puffing away on a pipe for big plumes of smoke is about as far away from how I smoke a pipe as you can get.

When I first started smoking a pipe someone told me that if I was doing it right my pipe would be always right on the verge of extinguishing itself. I took that to heart, and I have sipped on and breathed with my pipes since the beginning. At first it took a conscious effort, but before too long it became automatic.

I smoke mostly group 3 and group 4 pipes. I generally select the pipes I smoke based on their ability to give me a smoke with a duration of about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours. I feel that is enough time to really get into and enjoy the tobacco without crossing the line to where my palate is fatigued and I'm just burning money for something to do. For some ribbon blends I can manage a group 5, and for Latakia and Burley they work well because those tobaccos burn quicker. Even so, with Burley I often like a shorter smoke and will use a normal capacity pipe. Burley is my morning coffee smoke, and an hour is sufficient for me. Already going off on a tangent here.

Anyway, I see so many posts of the variety of how to get an hour or whatever smoke. Holy cow, if you aren't getting an hour smoke out of a group 4 what the heck are you doing to it? I'd smoke a group 4 full of Marlin Flake for 2 hours. I smoke a group 3 of BBF for 2 hours, sometimes a little longer if I rubbed it out less.

I smoke my bowls either down to nothing or to a little hard dottle, depending on the tobacco. I have anywhere from 2 to a whole bunch of matches sitting next to my tamper after I smoke a bowl. That is dependent on the moisture level and density of the tobacco I'm smoking, and I absolutely do not care or pay attention to how many matches I use, nor do I char my smoking chambers trying to burn every last shred in the bowl. 

Pipe smoking should be meditative. It is a sensory experience, and good tobacco should be enjoyed like good spirits or good cheese. It should force you to slow down. Your heart rate and blood pressure should decrease when smoking a pipe. Your mood should improve and whatever thoughts occupied your mind during the day should drift away. Pipe smoking is enjoyable not just as a sensory experience, when you're doing it right it should also calm and restore your mind and body.

This is just me finally voicing what I've thought so many times when I've read so many of these threads. If you're struggling to get any duration out of your smoke, especially if you're doing so in some ridiculous, humungous pipe, you need to start over. Work on your technique. It will be work, for a while, especially if you've been smoking for some time with bad technique. After some time, maybe a couple months, maybe longer, of artificially forcing yourself to smoke properly, you'll be smoking properly without having to give it any thought. You'll certainly enjoy smoking a pipe more than you ever have before. Think about it. Why would so many of us who have been doing this as long as we have still be interested to the point that the thought of pipes and tobacco is never far from our minds and we spend time on related websites and going to pipe shows? Because smoking a pipe is utterly fantastic! It lies somewhere between being a sensual pleasure and a hobby and yoga, and goes a long way toward helping us cope with the difficulties and stresses that life throws our way.

So set aside those ghastly gigantic abominations and get some pipe sized pipes. No one needs an ODA sized pipe. Seriously. No one needs one and you look silly smoking it. You're wasting good tobacco. 

Your homework assignment, if the above thoughts apply to you, is to work on this until you can pack a group 3 with BBF and smoke it from after dinner until just before bedtime. You'll thank me later.


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